A person can write or blog for a variety of reasons. Sometimes writing is a way of learning. As you think about something and put your thoughts into writing, it can help you work through an issue and clarify what you believe. The “God-centered vs. man-centered theology” posts have done that for me. Am I a Calvinist? No. However, I do hold a very high view of God, and have a heightened sense of human sinfulness. Many of the neo-reformed theologians deeply challenge me, and have greatly helped me progress in my spiritual life.
In all of my posts, there is one aspect I’ve never been able to articulate quite as I’d like too. When I dwell on the greatness of God and on how deeply fallen and broken that I am in comparison, this does NOT make me feel “bad” or condemned or hopeless. When I see myself as the wretch that I am compared to God, it leaves me awestruck at His mercy and grace through the Cross. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! God knows the worst about me and loves me anyway! This gives me a tremendous sense of relief and security and hope.
I appreciate how Tim Keller summarizes the gospel in this quote:
The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.
The blog “Practical Theology for Women” had a post on this recently entitled “Self-delusion vs. self-condemnation.” She approaches this in a different way than I have in my posts, and really gets to the heart of the matter. We seem to drift into either self-delusion or self-condemnation. But if we focus on Christ and our position in Christ, this frees us to be honest with ourselves! We can face our sin and brokenness, yet without feeling condemned. We don’t have to be self-deluded or self-condemning!
I think some people see self-delusion or self-condemnation as the only two options. Either you have to “think positive” and focus primarily on your “saintly” status as a believer (but this tends to lead to self-delusion). Or you have to focus on your failures, and feel defeated and stuck in sinful life patterns (which is self-condemning).
When I think about it, both self-delusion and self-condemnation are prideful! When we are self-deluded and can’t admit our weakness, that is obviously pride. But self-condemnation is prideful too! How so? It reveals our self centeredness. I thought this AW Tozer quote articulates it well:
Boasting is an evidence that we are pleased with self. Belittling, that we are disappointed with self. Either way, we reveal that we have a high view of ourselves.
That’s the problem! We seem naturally self-centered, and prone to self-deception. We don’t need more self-confidence, or pep talks on spiritual victory. That only feeds our ego. What we need is God-confidence! We need to focus on the person and work of Christ. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. Our identity is secure in Christ, and we are not defined by our behavior. Romans 8:1 reminds us:
There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Preach the gospel to yourself! It is this emphasis of reformed theology that has been so freeing for me! Thanks for listening as I continue to learn as I blog…